Some years ago, high up in the Apuane Alps a trainee mountain leader asked me for my optimum hiking group size. Rather flippantly I replied, “Just me and Finty (my lurcher).” He guffawed before agreeing that walking alone has a remarkable benefit for his mental health and creativity. However, neither of us showing sociopathic tendencies, we acknowledged that sharing the mountains with others is both an honour and a privilege. These sentiments are shared by our guides from Wild Trails Guides: the camaraderie built, a sense of wonder shared, friendships formed, levels of trust and encouragement expanded, challenges overcome. Sometimes you are forced to confront opposing opinions or deal with recalcitrant or fearful clients when a sense of humour, certainly composure, is vital. With Finty gone – she died last week – I am looking forward to many more accompanied walks in Wild Tuscany where I can laugh with the best of them and consider a new canine companion. Any suggestions are most welcome.

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